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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The pits

A week that kicked off with Metallica on the Monday ended with Rise Against on the Friday. Let's just take a wee minute to appreciate how fucking intense a week of music that is!



I'd been out since 13:30 pounding beers due to a well-timed leaving do at work so by the time I met Bro Dude, I was on my way to being well oiled. We hit the Crobar, London's premier heavy metal dive, for a couple of cheeky Newcastle Browns and a couple of rollies, and offski.

I've never been to Camden Roundhouse but my first opinion was "My, how awfully civilised", as the legions of punk rock reprobates poured in. We met with Hot Chick beforehand, and got into the venue for about 20:00. Just in time for Flobots. Oh great; fashionably political rap.

Hell no. I went in completely ambivalent expecting little and was hugely impressed. The blend of hand-plucked violin, smooth rap, rhythmic drums and bass groove completely got me and you could tell that, although 90% of the crowd probably had no idea who these guys were, the opinions were high. Flobots got a fierce reception when they finished with recent single "Handlebars" and left the stage; they thoroughly deserved it.

But then the band we were they to see kicked us all in the fucking face. I can't even remember which song came first (perhaps due to the frankly hilarious amount of booze I had consumed by this point) but I left Bro Dude and Hot Chick, and hit the pit. And shit my ballsack, was it a pit. The majority of songs in the early part of the set came from my favourite "Sufferer And The Witness" album and despite my trying to leave the pit, songs like "Injection" and "Bricks" kept me going shitfuck pony buggery crazy. "Drones" caused a ridiculous frenzy (that might have been the first one, actually...) and as they kicked in to "Collapse" from their newest album "Appeal To Reason" I went over the top. A successful surf to the front was combined with the realisation that I had lost both of my shoes. And t-shirt.

There is something haunting about Tim McIlrath's vocals; the guy just commands that you listen to the lyrics as well as the harsh yet melodic tones. I think only Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy sounds so similar live as on record. Although Tim didn't interact a huge amount with the crowd, Rise Against did exactly what they came to do. The passion of the politics, the ferocity of the crowd and the stealing of the shoes all combined to make an epic experience. We left feeling like we'd been to a seminar on how to be a fucking hardcore punk rock band.

Going through Rise Against's back catalogue, it's difficult to find any stinkers. I mean, some of the acoustic protest songs are a bit simple, but so what? They're a punk band, retard. They play with a fire that singes your bollocks. The fans are insane. The pits are violent but compassionate and the band really give a fuck. I mean, really give a fuck.

Political bands that matter are hard to find today; Rise Against may be a decade old but with their constant relevance, there's another few years in them yet. I fuckin' hope.

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